AVENGERS. “And There Came Another Day…”

There are some interesting threads on this forum, already covering issues of Marvel’s early series – ‘re-reading’’ of the Avengers and Journey into Mystery/Thor and so on and there was quite a good issue by issue thread on the Invaders around too, until it caught up with the present.
What is more rarely discussed are the later periods when these series were in full flow and while perhaps less iconic still number among them some classics…

I therefore present to you an issue by issue critique/discussion forum for one of these mainstay Marvel titles.
Not beginning at the very debut – as others have that covered well – but (and I hope I don’t step on anyone’s creative toes here!) – I would like to pick up the Avengers title after a watershed/bookend issue provided an opportune point at which to begin …
Issue #100 featured all Avengers to that point together in one tale and everything that goes before it is pretty well easily contained by then. The next issue launches the title into its second century of publishing and its next phase of greatness…

What has gone before…?
And so there came a Day…

The formation of the team.
The Hulk leaving. Captain America’s return. The Original members giving way to Cap’s kooky Quartet.
Goliath and Wasp returning. Hercules coming and going. The creation of Ultron. The arrival of the Vision.
Yellow jacket Hawkeye as Goliath II and then back again. The Squadron Sinister/Supreme. The Kree-Skrull War and of course…the Lady Liberators!
(I’m sure you’ll have your own highlights!)

And so there came ANOTHER Day…

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I would have thought that was Hank if he wasn't in the background. We don't need a walking skeleton like Al Hartley's version, but Blake should never look like he could take on bad guys without transforming into Thor.  

Writer – Jim Starlin - Penciller
Inker – Joseph Rubinstein
Cover Art – Jim Starlin 

  “The Final Threat"

A wonderful, beautiful, detailed and powerful cover by Jim Starlin at the height of his creativity.

Starlin's Thor is slim and angular - reminicent of Neal Adams, his Captain America athletic and focused - reminicent of Jim Steranko but his Beast is fierce and angry - uniquely his own.

This is an iconic classic and classy cover.

First things first, I have previously made my case for this Annual NOT fitting in continuity between Avengers # 166 and #167 and I stand by it - but fully admit it's debateable.
My main thrust is that Captain Marvel and Moondragon enter this tale with a foreboding that would have been applied to their search for Michael/Korvac before last issue's final battle and there is no more mention of Thor being pulled back and forward in time to assist the Avengers, courtesy of the Collector here.

If this story predates the end of Michael why was the point so importantly made that Thor had been manipulated into each adventure before #167, but not here?
On the flip side, how come the Guardians of the Galaxy are not asked to help battle Thanos - if this battle takes place after they arrived in our time and before they leave in #181?
Anyway, sorry if you feel strongly that we should have examined this book before (and MTIO Ann#2) - but here we go...

No longer starring in his own book, Adam Warlock (the true star of this issue) opens our story, finding the mortally injured Gamora at a scene of devestation.
She does not name her assailant but we get the message, "He's quite mad, you know." and "There is only one person in the entire universe he fears......YOU!"

(Always annoyed me that Adam Warlock became Starlin's hero against Thanos - I'm a team Mar-Vell kind of a guy!)

Warlock absorbs Gamora into his Soul Gem and declares his intention to avenge her - in a disturbing panel that makes him look clearly unhinged! So much so, on first reading I thought his insanity was a plot point.

The Avengers are introduced, moping about Avengers Mansion in a rainstorm...feeling antici.......... pation.

Iron Man is the most moody as Scarlet Witch and the Vision discuss him.
There is an interesting facet of characterisation in this exchange, "Iron Man and I have never been on the best of terms." "That's because you're both so much alike..." - I can't say I ever saw any similarities between them or any animosity? What book has Starlin been reading?

Iron Man explains he has been strugling with a feeling he should not leave -- explained by a couple of sometime friends who arrive, blaming a similar premonition - Captain Marvel (yay!) and Moondragon (boo.).
"Why else would two such irregular Avengers be here on such a night?"
It is a bit contrived, heaping almost supernatural omens onto the plot but Starlin is trying to build drama and pathos into a battle with Thanos to come that we may all feel we've seen before. (and will see ad nauseum from him in decades to come!?)
Thanos's ship shoots a star (?) and, apparently millions die (?)
"It has begun!"

Adam Warlock appears, "HIM!", and names the enemy, "His name is THANOS!"

For anyone who did not know and to help this Annual work-in-one (ah, those were the days!) we get beautifully drawn flashbacks covering Thanos's origin, his obsession with Death, his rise to power and the Cosmic Cube.
Using that power - declaring himself a god - Thanos was eventually defeated by Captain Marvel (yay) and had been plotting his revenge ever since. Chief instrument for that revenge Thanos discovered the six Soul Gems (later called the Infinity Gems) and, in his own two-part special series, forceably took them from their holders - until only Adam Warlock's Soul Gem remained.
Thanos siphoned all the gems power and created one large, synthetic gem and Gamora turned against him only to be cut down - bringing us back to the prologue in this issue.

Thanos's master plan? - "He plans on blowing every star out of the heavens."
The action cuts to an arrival on Thanos's ship - Pip the Troll. (Kind of like a pint-sized Ben Grimm/Nick Fury/Wolverine character from Warlock's supporting cast)
Pip is discovered by Thanos himself.

Starcore tracking station contacts the Avengers to announce..."It's An INVASION!"
Adam Warlock races off to deal - alone. (Why ask for help then ignore it?)
Moondragon remembers her human roots, Iron Man wonders if the team are up to the task, "I wonder-- are we Avengers heading for another 'glorious victory' or... an unmarked grave among the stars."
Mar-Vell and the Avengers all have a moment each -( if it were a Bendis story they'd all make the same quip.-) before confronting Thanos's armada.

Thor and Iron Man run interference while the rest of the team battle onto Thanos's ship.
There's a beautiful, stylised full-page battle scene.

The Avengers aquit themselves nicely but cosmically-aware Mar-Vell fears it is all too easy. He finds Adam Warlock...and dead Pip.
Warlock and Mar-Vell combine to attack Thanos in his real position. (No way is this really an Avengers issue - they're just stage dressing.)

Thanos appently defeats Mar-Vell and kills Warlock before Iron Man and Thor arrive and destroy the synthetic gem.

In a scene previously visited in Warlock's own mag - from the other perspective, Mar-Vell watches on as Adam Warlock of the past faces Adam Warlock of the now and discuss their lives.
"I welcome it's end!"

As the Avengers contemplate their apparent victory...and the death of their ally..."...Adam Warlock is at peace." ...Warlock meets with Pip and Gamora in an afterlife that exists within his soul gem...and the issue ends.

It is a closure of sorts for Adam Warlock, either craftily spun into it's own round continuity or slightly strained to tie the tale up.

Is this the best/greatest Adam Warlock/Thanos chapter ever?
Is this Starlin's peak?

It is bold, it is strong, it is wonderfully drawn, it is dramatic and iconic...and yet it is to be continued in Marvel-Two-In-One Annual #2!

Come Back...

I loved this story - it was my introduction to Adam Warlock and pals, as I recall.

Never saw this but used to have the sequel. So I came in in the middle of the story with no idea what was going on.

The movies are pushing Thanos like crazy but here he's like an afterthought. We just had a big bad beaten, it's way too soon to toss in another one.

Warlock gets killed here. Mar-Vell a few years later. I'm thinking the Silver Surfer was lucky Stan was protecting him back then.

Interestingly this is the first annual since #2 way back in 1968 to have an original story.

Avengers Annual # 7 was one of the first comics I purchased after a three year hiatus from comic book reading. It was somewhat disappointing to find that other comics weren't nearly this good.

Ah no Ronald, Annual #6 between issues #153 and #154 was an in continuity original

Ronald Morgan said:

Interestingly this is the first annual since #2 way back in 1968 to have an original story.

This two parter is a true Bronze Age classic.  Slotting it into regular Avengers continuity is tricky though. I don't think Starlin was especially concerned about making everything fit. He had previously left Marvel in some sort of dispute with Gerry Conway and then Archie Goodwin lured him back by promising he could finish his Warlock story via these annuals.  I think he just kind of shoehorned in the Avengers and the Thing in order to tell the Warlock story.

Seems like this should have been continued in either Fantastic Four or Defenders rather than Marvel-Two-In-One, but then they seemed to have designated that series the place to conclude cancelled storylines.

Actually, I kind of think that it did not really need continuing anywhere.

The MTIO sort of jump-starts the same story again....

......as we shall see.....
Ronald Morgan said:

Seems like this should have been continued in either Fantastic Four or Defenders rather than Marvel-Two-In-One, but then they seemed to have designated that series the place to conclude cancelled storylines.

If they were going to continue it MTIO seems an odd choice. But the writer seemed to want to finish the Thanos saga.

There was also the Fantastic Four WWII story that was continued in MTIO when it didn't need continuing. The one where the Watcher appeared to warn it wasn't over yet but wouldn't speak because of what had happened to him in Captain Marvel so he and Ben sort of played charades.

Writer – Jim Shooter - Penciller
Inker – Joseph Rubinstein
Cover Art – Jim Starlin 

  “Death Watch!"

A wonderful, beautiful Team-Up/MTIO cover, with one of Starlin's best compositions bordered by an Avengers line-up.
I would have prefered if the vignettes of the Avengers had have been new original Starlin faces to complete his mark on this epic but it's a small point.

Instantly you are struck by the fact that this is really a Marvel Team-Up / Marvel Two-In-One Crossover with some Avengers (and non-Avengers - have I mentioned Mar-Vell never 'joined' until he gets an honourary membership after his death?)  thrown in and I do wonder why the two books chosen for this story were not this issue and a MTU Annual instead of the previous Avengers Annual. (I know Spidey wasn't in that one but with minimal cast shuffling it could have been achieved.)

With that previous Avengers Annual apparently covering Thanos's 'Final Threat' you may wonder what plot fills this book...and the answer is....kind of the same one.

We open though, with Peter Parker having a sleepless night's dream/vision. (Again making this feel like a MTU book rather than an Avengers crossover or even a MTIO book!)
That vision is a re-cap of the Avengers Annual up to the death of Adam Warlock and the destruction of the large synthetic gem. (Remember?)

It goes even further however, curiously re-capping plot points we have not 'seen' (as if there's a missing chapter somewhere!) where despite his apparent defeat, Thanos returned to our heroes and battled them again, cutting down the Avengers,

"So fell Earth's Protectors".

Although captured and not dead, our heroes are helpless and the actually dead Adam Warlock's Soul Gem has fallen into the hands of Thanos...and Peter wakes!
Aware of the balance of cosmic power, Lord Chaos and Lord Order discuss Spider-Man's involvement and throw the Thing (finally starring in his own book - but only by page 7-8!) in to help.
(Not the whole FF or anyone else notice!)

Once Spider-Man gets the Thing to accept the threat as revealed the two heroes jet off into space.
(I know eventually everyone becomes Avengers but this was a rare multi-team-up in it's day!)

We get a Star Trek moment as our earthbound duo approach Thanos's massive space ship and a battle with various alien races/henchmen once inside.
So far so familiar.

The dead Adam Warlock and friends, who are living in paradise within the Soul-gem begin to realise their struggle is not over...
Rather than just add Ben and Spidey to the captured Avengers or kill them all, Thanos naturally explains his evil plans.
There is a wonderful Starlin full-page shot of most everyone here and it honestly is near flawless, I do believe Starlin was at the top of his game here.

The Thing fights on as Spider-Man wonders what use he can be against such cosmic odds. He moves on past his own doubts and manages to free the captive heroes and the tide turns against Thanos.
(yes, it really does feel familiar as the fighting happened much like this last issue!)
There is another full page Starlin battle scene - but Thor's face is just wrongly proportioned and it lets the page down badly - better are the Starlin speciality backgroundless panels of Captain Marvel and Moondragon and especially -- Thor and the Thing defeating Thanos.

(I bet you all said ThanOTH then didn't you? - Try it again! See?.)

Finally and of course, as all again appears lost, Adam Warlock returns from his paradise/afterlife (I don't profess to actually understand any of this!) as Spider-Man steps up.
Again with Spider-Man struggling to be a player on the Cosmic stage - this really does read much more like a Spider-Man/Marvel Team-Up title than a Thing/MTIO one.

Interestingly, Adam Warlock refers to himself as 'The Ultimate AVENGER." and yet remains one of the very few Marvel heroes never to actually carry a membership card of that team.

"I saw you DIE! I Killed You!" protests Thanos  as he is instantly (too-quick?) turned to stone by Warlock!
That pose of Thanos becomes an iconic one as he is revisited many decades later in 'Infinity' like this (if I remember correctly?) but most memorably in the 'Death of Captain Marvel' Graphic Novel. (Which really SHOULD have been Thanos's final appearance aswell!)

The epilogue deals with the burial of Warlock, Gamorra and Pip with Mar-Vell eulogising and those three being bid farewell back in the paradise/afterlife of the Soul-gem...as Thanos weeps for his lost love - death.

Okay so, it's space/cosmic action with some human melodrama squeezed into an Annual as an olive branch to Jim Starlin and on close inspection does not really have much to add that wasn't possible in the Avengers Annual but - rightly so? - this is part-two of a two-part classic of it's day and a very good example of what Marvel Comics can do.

It does feel like Starlin has repeated this again and again ever since though doesn't it?

So, the Avengers have died battling Michael/Korvac, returned from the dead, regrouped and fended off Thanos with some friends, do we get back to more mundane adventures in the main Avengers title now...?
Maybe, but there is another Annual that is really difficult to perfectly fit into continuity first....

Come Back...


I liked this issue.  The difference between Ben and Pete's approach to Thanos was natural, as was Pete's sudden panic.  At this point in the mu Ben was one of the stronger beings around and Thanos didn't really have any trouble taking him down.  That would scare Pete.  I also thought it a nice but subtle touch that Ben was able to navigate through space with Pete's less than accurate idea of where Thanos ship was.

 I saw an interesting hint that Lord Chaos and Master Order had a hand in making Pete Spider-Man, something I don't think was ever referenced before or since.


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